In an effort to curb unnecessary trips to the bathroom, fifth grade Brooklyn teacher Stephanie Warner came up with a plan to encourage her students to hold it. She made and distributed three tickets to each student which allowed them to use the bathroom between 8-8:15 a.m., 10:20-10:30 a.m. and 1:40-1:50 p.m. or during their lunch period. If a student had to use a restroom at any other time, they were not allowed. If they lost, crumbled, ripped their tickets, or used up all three before the week was up, they would be denied a bathroom break. The students who didn’t use any tickets were rewarded with prizes such as sticker and pencils.
Parents were naturally shocked when they found out. The principal assured them that it was not a school wide policy but rather a system that the teacher came up with on her own to get her students to stay in class. Incidentally, the teacher in question produced an email sent weeks ago to the principal that clearly stated what she intended to do with her class to keep them from making bathroom visits and says she never heard back from the principal so assumed it was fine. Since the media coverage, the teacher’s restroom system has since been overturned.
While I do understand the need for teachers to have their students not miss class time, or run rampant in the hallways, I firmly believe that the right to use a bathroom at any time should be non-negotiable.
Of course, kids like adults must learn to have control over their bodily functions but sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go. Throw into the mix the kid with IBS, autism (one of the students in this class has autism), nervous bladder or other medical issue. Add on top of that the kid who is too shy to cause a scene so will suffer in silence. Many kids also have a commute before they will reach their own bathroom. Doctors are appearing on channels covering the story reiterating how detrimental it can be for children to hold urine for long periods of time.
If anything, creating a system where any child can be denied a bathroom break and also encourages the other students to visually keep track of how many times classmates are utilizing their tickets is cruel. Rewarding the kids how have no medical issues or anxiety is even worse. Bathroom tickets should not be a commodity in a classroom.
No child should be penalized for a simple, normal bodily function.